24-year-old Alice Hibberd, from Newent will be running the London Marathon this year in memory of Rosie Kilburn, to raise money for a Ross-on-Wye based charity, Hope Support Services.

Alice works as a lecturer at Gloucestershire College and she also works with young people who have learning difficulties. A couple of years ago, while she was at university, she came across a Facebook status that came as a reality shock to her.

Alice explained: “In 2011 I had just got home from handing in a Uni assignment at 10am, still drunk and in the clothes from the night before. I checked my Facebook to find a status on my newsfeed that in all honesty, changed my life.

“The status was an angry one; someone angry that her Facebook friends were choosing to destroy their bodies with alcohol and fags, whilst she was fighting a rare form of cancer, which had recently turned terminal. I couldn’t help but feel instantly guilty; Rosie Kilburn was completely right. Although I was not the wildest of students, I was at a point where I was failing my course, going out two or three times a week and not looking after myself.”

Alice said that while she did not know Rosie well, she had been in the year above Rosie at school, she was touched by her story. She had her own health scare in 2010, when she found out she had tumours on her lymph nodes.

“Luckily I had them removed and that was the end of it, however looking back now it scares me that my story could have been so different,” Alice said.

Alice soon began following Rosie’s story online.

“I went back through all of her blog posts, Although we were Facebook friends, we hardly knew of each other, I don’t think we had ever spoken. It turned out that whilst I had been drinking my liver away, Rosie had been fighting cancer for two years in an extraordinary way: she had set up her own blog, a charity art auction and her own ‘not for profit’ business to raise thousands of pounds for cancer charities.”

Alice explained that Rosie’s story gave her the kick start that she needed. “I started looking after myself; I started running, I joined a gym, I went out less, I studied more, I graduated, I got a job. I put my health first; both physically and mentally.

“Those who know me well will agree with me when I say that my life has improved dramatically and Rosie inspired me to do so.”

In September 2011, Rosie died, aged 19. Hours before her death, she renewed the domain for her blog; she wanted her family and friends to continue her fundraising efforts for charities all over the UK.

Alice said: “I’ve always wanted to give something back to Rosie, and getting in to the London Marathon has given me the perfect opportunity.”

Alice started her training plan on January 4th. She ran her first marathon last year in Manchester and she got round in four and a half hours. This year, she is hoping to run this year’s marathon in less than four hours. “I am lucky in that my sister is also running the London Marathon so we can motivate each other.” Alice said.

In addition to marathon training, Alice works full time and is also studying a level seven course part-time. She plays rugby for Newent RFC ladies. “We train every Wednesday and have matches most Sundays,” Alice said. “Running on Mondays with bruised legs and sore shoulders can be really hard.”

She continued: “I have chosen to raise money for Hope Support services on behalf of The Knock On Effect because Hope Support Services was Rosie’s favourite charity.

“Hope Support Services supports families of people affected by life limiting illnesses, and so is the closest to the TKOE ambition. Rosie worked closely with the Youth team at Hope Support Services when she was ill and wanted to return the favour by helping to raise money for them.”

Hope’s Administrator, Lorna Russell, told the Ross Gazette: “We are so pleased that Alice has chosen to run the Marathon for Hope. The Knock On Effect has supported us so much over the past couple of years, and it all started off with Rosie – the fact that Alice is running in her memory and has chosen Hope to benefit is really touching.

“We wish her lots of luck with the training and obviously the day itself. We’re always in awe of people who take on such tough challenges for us.”

If you would like to sponsor Alice, you can visit her online donation page. Click here.